Below are a couple examples of how you might program your controller. A key component of these schedules is the use of a cycle and soak method. This involves using two or more short watering cycles, with brief resting times in between, rather than a single long sprinkling time. This is suggested because many sprinklers apply water more quickly than soil can absorb it, particularly clay soils that are common in our region. Non-rotating spray sprinklers apply water especially fast, with runoff occuring after only a few minutes. Using multiple short cycles, water from one round of sprinkling can soak in before the next cycle starts. These short cycles should be spaced only an hour or two apart (not split up between morning and evening) in order to obtain deep watering and healthier roots.
Most good sprinkler controllers (timers) can be scheduled with multiple start times. They also typically have more than one "program" available, so that lawn areas can be scheduled completely differently than shrubs, including different days and number of days per week. Using the following sample controller settings, you might schedule your lawn areas on Program A with start times of 1am, 3 am and 5 am on 3 days per week in May. Shrub zones can be scheduled on Program B for different days of the week and/or with different start times, such as midnight, 2am and 4 am.
|Days per Week||3||4||3||Off|
|Start Times per Day||3||3||2||Off|
|Minutes per Cycle||5||6||6||Off|
|Total Minutes per Zone||15||18||12||Off|
|Weekly Minutes Per Zone||45||72||36||Off|
|Days per Week||2||3||2||Off|
|Start Times per Day||3||3||3||Off|
|Minutes per Cycle||4||4||3||Off|
|Total Minutes per Zone||12||12||9||Off|
|Weekly Minutes Per Zone||24||36||18||Off|
* Watering times for rotating sprinklers are different from sprays. See Sample Lawn Watering Schedule for guidelines
** Zones that receive shade should be run for less time than areas in full sun.
*** Reduce sprinkling when rain has occurred, especially in spring when showers are common.
Drip Irrigation is an ideal alternative for shrub areas. Scheduling drip zones varies according to the size and number of emitters serving various plants. Monitor soil moisture around plants using an inexpensive moisture meter to determine appropriate watering schedules.